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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

I’m proud to say that I did my Three Realms Yoga* yesterday and this morning.  I went downstairs before anyone else, opened the curtains in the windows facing the back forest, and moved through my poses.  It rained all day Saturday, and today is a sunny autumn day.  The difference in weather mixed with two days worth of my yoga meant for some different focuses and perceptions.  Saturday was all about water below and above.  Today it was feeling the moisture in the Earth Mother and the warmth coming down from the sky.  Both days had me looking ahead at transforming birch trees, resiliant and flexible in the wind.  I’ve been reflecting on Autumn, Samhain, dying, and rebirth.

Starting the day outside or looking outside, focusing on the natural changes, helps me stay connected to the changing seasons and how that interacts with the holidays I celebrate.  I’m working on visualizing the energies flowing through me as I move and feeling how the currents change with the year.

Later, I went to my altar and did a purification and consecration working on a bell I purchased at a local metaphysical shop.  Although I did not perceive any negativity about it, I find that doing this ritual is a good practice and helps me connect with each tool’s inner spirit.

Working through Trance 1 is helping me to deepen my magical practice.  I held the bell and opened myself up to learn her name and commune with her to instill my purpose into the tool.  The omens after the magical working were very positive, and indicative of the wealth and joy this new tool will bring to my Druidry.

 

 

*I may have called it “Two Powers Yoga” in the past, but I’ve started to think of it differently.

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It’s “Small Business Saturday,” so I went to one of my favorite villages to support the local shops as I prepare for Winter Solstice giving. Supporting local businesses is so important when it comes to living more sustainably. Making such efforts is important to me on my path.  If you’re going to spend money on material goods, why not keep it in your local economies and help regional artisans, farmers, herbalists, etc?  If at all possible, help talented local Pagans!

As I browsed, I thought about the many times new Pagans ask where one can get “supplies.”  Usually, they’re looking for metaphysical shops.  Yes, they can be great places to start, but what if they’re gone?  Many communities have lost brick and mortar Pagan shops due to the poor economy.  Even if you’re lucky enough to have one or two, they may not be in convenient locations.  Or perhaps they carry some items but not others, or they just aren’t up to your ethical standards.  We all know the places I’m talking about: mass produced statues made in China, cheap incense that makes you gag, paraffin candles, gem stones of dubious origin that were probably raped from the Earth Mother…  Get the picture? So what’s a tree-hugging dirt worshiper to do?

My suggestion is always to look at three categories of local shops: artisan co-ops, heath food stores, and local food producers.  Let’s take a look at each category.

Artisan Co-Ops

These are places in which artisans from around the region each pay an entrance fee and cooperatively work together to sell their goods in one location.  There are usually a variety of mediums represented.  There are a few in the Northern NY region around the 1000 Islands area, and I know they exist in other places.  They’re often the most impressive shops in otherwise touristy areas.  (Who really needs another plastic snow globe?) What would interest a visiting Pagan?  The shop I was in earlier had a plethora of hand dipped candles (including black, believe it or not), wooden and clay bowls, incense holders, blended oils, soaps (think purification), tea, and my favorite handmade incense. Heck, you could even buy a woven or dyed scarf and use it as an altar cloth if you want!  Don’t see exactly what you want?  Chances are, there’s an artist there who could make it for a commission.  Sure, things are a little more costly, but walking an Earth-Centered path means making more ethical choices.  Saving up for a handmade wooden bowl may cost me more, but there’s more integrity there than buying a cheaper, mass-produced bowl in a big box store.  Think of the act of saving and supporting an artist as an offering to the Earth Mother! The beauty of co-ops is that you get to meet the different artists, so I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many of the people.  I know that the woman who makes the incense, for example, doesn’t use some of the harmful ingredients that other brands use, like saltpeter.  She also grows or forages for many of the ingredients.

Health Food Stores

Does your hometown have a small health food store?  Try to support them when you have herbal needs!  Many sell organic herbs in bulk.  I can get just about everything I could want at my local shop – dry herbs, essential oils, carrier oils, and, occasionally, beeswax.  Some even carry clean-burning candles and incense.  If I can’t grow it or forage for it myself, chances are my local health food store will have it.  If not, they can often order it for me.  If you’re advancing in your studies and want to make your own herbal goodies, or you simply want specific herbs for an offering, start here!

Local Food Producers

I’m referring to farm stands, wineries, and distilleries here. Eating local is a large part of my Druidism because it forces me to pay attention to the agricultural year, hence the Wheel of the Year.  Locally grown food or flowers could be in your calming tea, your healing pot of soup, your group potluck, or your offering bowl.  Interested in making herbal goodies in your magical rites?  Get your hands on some local honey!  That stuff is already brimming with healing energy.  Similarly, your wineries and distilleries will offer different alcohols in which to infuse herbs.  Unless you’re specifically looking for some energy from another land, alcohol made with grapes, grain and other ingredients from your region will be flowing with the blessings of your local Nature Spirits.

The next time you meet a new Pagan who wonders where to get supplies, I hope you’ll refer the seeker to an artisan co-op, health food store, or local food producers.

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Picked up a locally made candle and gathered some fallen rowan berries for later magical use.

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A photo of Louise Psarras-Bly taken by  my friend Honey Loo.  This was at a soap making workshop given in Watertown, NY.

Name of Shop: Les Savons de LouLou

Owner: Louise Psarras-Bly

Specialty: Natural body products like soaps, lotions, and lip balms.  Emphasis on natural!

Location: Carthage, NY but also online.  She will ship anywhere in the USA.

Knowledge of goods:

Louise is extremely knowledgeable about soap making, creating cosmetics, and natural ingredients.   I was lucky enough to attend her workshop through the Lucky Seven Lecture Series given by the North Country Arts Council in Watertown, NY.  She explained her history which included memories of family in Greece making soap and a desire to make natural soap like the kind she was able to find in Belgium before moving to the US in 2000.  She’s been making wonderful soap ever since!  Louise knows and researches her ingredients.  Her soaps are made from lye which, while dangerous, she is very careful to handle.  In addition she adds extra virgin olive oil and other natural ingredients, such as minerals, to add color.  You can read more about her ingredients, products, and philosophy on her website!

Some of the minerals Louise uses as well as one of the soap molds she made.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

Audience: 

As said, Louise ships all over the USA.  She aims to bring natural body care back to everyone.  Products are for men and women alike!  She can complete large orders if you’re looking for party favors.  Earth-centered Pagans should love her natural approach. It’s a great option for a physical pre-ritual cleansing!

Fellow artisans are also targeted in that she offers hands-on workshops to actually make soap, body scrubs, lip balm, and more!  If you live in Northern NY or are planning to visit the 1000 Islands Region, call her and set up a private or group workshop!   Furthermore, when asked if she would be comfortable hosting a group of Pagans to make soap or bath tea, she was definitely willing to have us!

Number of Experiences:

Thus far, I have had two experiences with Les Savons de LouLou.  The first was the previously mentioned workshop in which I was able to take home several samples of her wonderful soap, including a shampoo bar!  I also got patchouli, spearmint, ginger lemon-grass, and one or two other scents.  The soaps I’ve used so far, the shampoo soap, ginger lemon-grass, and spearmint, smell divine and foam wonderfully!  They leave my skin feeling soft and my hair looks great!

Most Recent Experience:

Her shop celebrated its one year anniversary last weekend.  Weretoad and I stopped in to visit and buy some gifts for family.  Her shop is connected to another that she manages called An Eclectic Boutique which sells antiques and locally made goods – jewelry, felt toys, and food!  Hubby and I purchased some soaps for family.  For myself, I bought a large shampoo bar and a wonderful strawberry-raspberry lip gloss.  Natural flavors, oils, and color!  And very affordable!  I love it and the smell makes me think of summer which is just around the corner.  If you wear makeup, it’s a great cosmetic for the light half of the year.  Louise was giving out more samples so I grabbed a little bottle of lavender hand lotion.  Wow – just wow.  The smell is perfect and created with essential oils.  Beautiful products!

Environmental Impact:

Les Savons de LouLou, while not certified organic or anything like that, is making great strides to be sustainable.  The products utilize natural ingredients for color, scent, texture, and suds.  Most of her products are vegetarian.  Her beer soap, though it smells divine, is not because it’s made with Guinness.  She also makes a wine soap but I don’t know which wine she uses or if that brand is vegetarian. I also don’t know if she uses local wine.  Louise is always willing to answer questions about her products so I could easily find out.  She is able to explain why she uses a product and what health benefits they give.  Her soaps are minimally packaged in paper.  The lip gloss I bought comes in a small glass container thus it is recyclable.

Summary

Les Savons de LouLou is a wonderful company.  It is very local to me and Louise uses natural and mostly vegetarian and vegan ingredients.  She is concerned about what people put into their bodies and wants to bring back the old art of soap making.  Festival season is coming up and you don’t want to be a dirty Pagan!  Grab some natural soaps to clean up!

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This is my first official post in which I review and recommend Pagan shops.  In my introduction to the series, The Ditzy Druid Goes Shopping, I lament the quality of products in most metaphysical shops but agree that they are still important places to strengthen community, educate, and provide tools to newer Pagans.  Unfortunately, once you’ve exhausted the honeymoon period and realize that, to progress, you actually need to leave the 101 books behind, most such shops leave much to be desired – especially in the area of environmental sustainability.  This series will be a way for me to laud my favorite shops, old and new, and help those emerging from their Pagan chrysalises to find reputable, worthwhile merchants – both online and physical locations.  This series will, unfortunately, be relatively infrequent because I do make, gather, and grow a lot of my own materials.  That’s part of growing up and away from most new age stores – you become more of a DIYer and less about the cheap, factory produced “clutter” pushed by so many.  Thus I will only post about shops I have actually had positive experiences with.  If you make a suggestion, please don’t expect that I will patronize or post about it.  Second, I will only post about shops that, in my opinion, are worth sharing.  I will not be posting negative reviews.  I only have so much time and I think you’ll agree that it is better spent recommending rather than spewing forth negativity.  I highly suggest the stores I post about, but it’s important for others to grow and experiment as well – and that includes the organic process of growing out of the stores I tend to avoid.  I do not want to publicly badmouth someone else’s shop.  They are entrepreneurs who are also learning and growing, and as stated they do have a role in this community.  Hopefully my recommendations will assist others in making improvements!  (Gosh, this makes me sound like an obnoxious know-it-all.  I assure you, I’m also growing and learning.  There are still times when I’m a little materialistic – especially at Pagan Pride events. (“Ooooh…shiny…”)  No one is perfect.  Etc etc…  I’m sure many of you will turn your noses up at my choices and that is fine.)

Name of Shop: Stang and Cauldron

Owner: Sarah Lawless: traditional witch, artisan, and a very prolific blogger

Location: The shop is online, but Sarah Lawless lives in the Pacific Northwest of Canada.

Knowledge of goods:

First of all, let me begin by acknowledging how obvious a choice this is for a first review.  Sarah is known for her wisdom, experience, and authenticity.  She is highly regarded by Pagans from all around the globe and in many traditions.  She shares much of her knowledge on her blogs which have become a goldmine for those who are becoming intermediate practitioners, reading outside of the New Age section, but are having difficulties connecting their knowledge to practice.  Sarah continues to share, educate, and also warn: she definitely does not sugar coat her words.  Many need that.

When it comes to her shop, Stang and Cauldron delivers and then some.  If you follow her blog, you know that she has researched and experimented before listing.  Often, the books and articles are linked on her blog for you to see for yourself.  You also get to see the progress of her merchandize.  Sarah usually shares photos from her harvesting trips, in-progress art, and finished products well before they go up for sale.  She is quick to respond to any questions and can tell you where and how her ingredients were procured.

Audience:

I feel Stang and Cauldron is mostly for intermediate and beyond Pagans, especially traditional witches, spirit workers/shamans, and those following an Indo-European influenced path such as Druidic or Hellenic.  This is not necessarily exhaustive, and I do not dispute that others could benefit – but I’m only going from my own experience.  Beginners would definitely benefit from her extensive selection of charms, handmade incense and oils, but I do not recommend using the flying ointments until you have mastered more of the basics.

Number of Experiences:

To date, I have made three (technically four) transactions with Stang and Cauldron. Each time, I received everything in a timely fashion. Nothing was broken or missing.

Most Recent Experience:

I made two separate orders, technically, but because they were within a day of each other, Sarah refunded my second shipping and handling payment and sent it together in one package (talk about good customer service!).  My order is photographed above – some mandrake salve, a collection of blackthorns, and a hag stone.  As I’m only starting to experiment with flying ointments, I did not trust my own DIY spirit.  Not to mention, I do not grow mandrake.  For something like this, it’s best to go to an experienced practitioner.  The blacktorns and hag stone charm were ordered for similar reasons – I have never been able to find blackthorn or a hag stone, try as I might.  The hag stone called to me and I couldn’t help myself.  Everything arrived in a snug little package.  Nothing was damaged or missing.

Environmental Impact:

To begin with, Sarah uses almost all local ingredients that she harvests or grows.  She creates small batches so as to not have anything spoil.  Stang and Cauldron is also starting to feature work from other artisans.  The hag stone charm actually came from such an individual.  As you know, I’m very supportive of featuring work from artisans rather than similar products made in factories. Sarah’s packaging is very sustainable.  The only plastic was tape on the outside of the cardboard box.  Inside, everything was wrapped in reusable tissue paper.  The blackthorns, as photographed, were attached to a bit of cardboard with embroidery floss.  As someone trying to reduce her use of plastic, this was much appreciated!  Sarah is definitely not a hypocrite when it comes to walking lightly upon the Earth.  She does the best she can and it really shows!

Summary

I cannot recommend Stang and Cauldron enough.  If you are looking for hard-to-find magical herbs or salves, this is the place to go.  Furthermore, if you’re looking for spiritually themed artwork, Sarah delivers in that area too.  She’s an incredibly talented Pagan who is sure to inspire you.

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Nearly a month ago, I posted about visiting a local antique shop and purchasing twin brass bowls.  I knew nothing of their previous use.  How many hands had passed them?  I did not feel anything inherently negative about them (I doubt I would have purchased them if I had), but unless I craft a tool, I like to purify it.  Think what you will of energy, positive or negative: this is what I do and believe.

In 2010, I posted about the moon with regards to Druidism.  Since then, I’ve been trying to work with its energies and phases.  Ian Corrigan created The Nine Moons discipline for would-be initiates of ADF.  The system is still being experimented with, but I’ve lapsed from practice due to the demands of college, family, and work.  The system is either not entirely for me or not meant for me now.  Despite that, I benefited from my time toying with it.  I really connected to my ancestors in a way I never had, and I started to work with the moon.  I paid more attention to it, to my feelings, to the energies around me.  I started to work with it.

The waning moon felt like a perfect time to purify my brass bowls.  Many traditions posit that workings meant to decrease or banish should take place during the waning moon – the time when the lunar wheel appears to decrease.  It is a very sympathetic magic – “like begets like”.  It’s a very symbolic way of going about magic.

With that in mind, I set about my task.  I called to my spiritual allies, made offerings, and went into a light trance.  I used ogham to divine whether this was indeed a good time for such a working and the signs indicated that it was.  I placed the brass bowls on a slab of stone I use to draw sigils of purification on*.  I blessed the bowls in the name of the three realms and the three kindreds.  I blessed them in the name of fire and water while passing them through incense and anointing them with water from my blessed well.  I declared the bowls “whole and holy” and dedicated them to the service of my path.  I let them sit on the slab with sigils overnight.

The bowls will now be put to work on my altar. They are perfect for holding incense and are just the thing I’ve been looking for.  Is there something you’ve been hoping to find for your altar?  Rather than going to a big box store, why not see what’s available at  nearby antique shops?  You’ll never know what treasures you may find, and reusing is very good for Mama Earth.  Use a ritual of purification to welcome the tools to your altar and make them your own!

*There are many ways to make sigils in rituals space.  There are woodcuts of alchemists with various sigils and conjuration patterns on their floors.  I live in an apartment and can't draw on my floors.  It would be a pain to vacuum loose powders out of the carpet.  The stone slab, which gave me permission to bring it inside for magical work, is a great way to get around that and connect to earthy energies.  I use chalk to draw oghams on it according to my purposes.  Outside, you can make sigils on the ground using herbs, differently colored soil, bird seed or twigs.

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My husband and I are on vacation this week.  This time last year, we went to Ireland and I wish we could return this year.  Instead, we’re doing what responsible adults do and are saving money for a home and land.  Despite that, we did want to go on a trip.  We decided to stay close to home and go on a day trip to the Adirondacks*.  My sister and brother-in-law visited and we took them to Tupper Lake, NY to see The Wild Center, a natural history museum dedicated to the Adirondacks and conservation.  This was my third or fourth time to The Wild Center, and I always enjoy it.  It’s fun to see the otters and other animals (this time we got to visit with a kestrel as well!), and I always learn something new.  For example, I was really excited to learn that there are specific fungi that only grow on decaying pine cones!  I also learned that quaking aspens have chlorophyl in their bark and can continue to carry out some photosynthesis in the winter!  Nature never fails to impress!

We took a little hike in Tupper Lake.  Despite our lack of snow only two hours away, it still looks like winter in the Adirondacks!  The locals, on the other hand, know better and lament the poor season.  Many ski slopes, for example, have experienced terrible business.

From Tupper Lake, we made the short drive to Lake Placid.  We only had time to poke around the village, but we did enjoy seeing the lake (frozen over, complete with a sled dog team!) and the snowcapped mountains on the horizon.  Here are some of the photos I took:

Ice sculpture outside the Wild Center.
Probably my favorite photo from the day – lichen growing on a tree.  Look at how large it is!  If you squint, you could almost imagine it’s a Green Man or Horned God because of the branches.  Imagination aside, it was such a welcomed sight of green.
A cairn on the nature trail.
A view of the back of The Wild Center.  You can just make out the solar panels on one of the buildings.  In the center is the pond which is frozen over.  It’s quite the sight in the spring and summer!  Was nice to see it in a different season.
This was inside The Wild Center.    Whether or not reincarnation as imagined by various spiritualities exists, there is still this truth.  I’ve grown to take comfort in this simple reality.  This, to me, is  at the heart of Druidism.   This is certainly something to meditate on!  I just love  the imagery here – the spiral, the stream…  and of course, the question – what did you used to be?  What will you be?
There are many animals in The Wild Center.  Many were rescued and rehabilitated, or, like the kestrel I mentioned, they were born to rehabilitated parents and “behaviorally handicapped” in that they trust humans too much to return to the wild.  I’m not sure what the painted turtles’ stories were, but I loved how relaxed they looked sunbathing on this rock.  It’s hard to see, but there’s a sign near them that reads, “Turtles be warned: human hand may be dangerous.”
Here’s a view from Lake Placid.    I believe that’s Mount Marcy in the distance – the tallest mountain in NY State!  Isn’t it beautiful?

Today we went to my favorite local antique shop. The last time I was there, I saw an old herb cutter and it really caught my fancy.  Since then, I’ve seen other antique herb cutters in magazines and I decided that, if it was still there, I would buy it!

It’s older and needs some cleaning up, but it’s just the thing for chopping up large quantities of herbs!  It has a really earthy energy to it as well and I can’t ignore its very lunar appearance**.  I have a fondness and fascination for older tools.  They are often sturdier than most things you can find in big box stores these days, and reusing something is very sustainable thus very Druidic in my opinion!  Even if I decide it’s too rusty to use with food, it will be a great tool for other herbal workings.

It’s Wednesday now.  My vacation is half over but I’ve already had a great adventure!

 * Day trips aren't just good for the wallet - they are arguably better for the environment than taking a plane to a faraway destination!  I keep reminding myself that so I feel even better.  ;)
** On a very practical level, its shape allows it to fit in a bowl.

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